This post is part of the Roadmap To The Future Series. Roadmap To The Future explores innovative industry trends and breakthroughs in science, entertainment, and technology. This series is sponsored by Verizon.
unveiled the Playstation 4 last month, one of its new features was allowing people to share live streams of themselves playing video games with others online. The concept may sound silly—tuning in just to watch friends play the latest version of Halo or Call of Duty—however, the concept is far from new and is quite popular.
People have been uploading videos of themselves playing video games on YouTube for years.
Since June 2011, video platform and online gamer community Twitch (formerly TwitchTV) has taken advantage of this trend, allowing gamers to view other players’ live streams.
In the past year and a half, the hot startup has grown from 3.2 million unique viewers to more than 28 million this month.
The streaming site doesn’t create any of its own content.
Rather, it relies on gamers and partners to stream live content whether it be video games, conferences, or Major League Gaming coverage (eSports).
Looking for Sony’s Playstation 4 announcement? It was streamed on Twitch.
Users can stream their own broadcasts by adding Twitch’s broadcasting software development kit (SDK).
The trend of viewing video game live streams is finally catching on enough for game consoles to begin integrating Twitch’s technology onto their platforms.
At the end of last year, Twitch partnered with some of the biggest names in video game business from Electronic Arts to Activision, and Sony Online Entertainment.
Using Twitch’s SDK, game platforms Sony, EA, and Activision connect their games to Twitch and allow players to broadcast their gameplay.
Currently, the most viewed games on the site include PC games “League of Legends,” “Dota 2,” and “World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria.”
However, “Call of Duty: Black Ops II” and “Minecraft,” PS3 and Xbox games, are now a fairly popular streamed games as well.
According to Twitch, its content now gets viewed more than 133 million hours per month.
Compare this to the 3 billion hours per week we’re estimated to play video games as a whole on the planet.
People aren’t solely heading to Twitch to watch video games.
Others use the site to raise money for charity while Twitch has also given away scholarships for gamers.
According to CEO Emmett Shear, more than $3 million has been raised using Twitch as a platform to date.
Why stream video games?
Back in 2010, before Twitch, there was another was known as Justin.tv and featured a variety of live streams not inclusive to video games.
Twitch’s Vice President of Marketing, Matthew DiPietro tells Business Insider the decision to focus solely on video game streaming came after they noticed a spike in live video stream views.
“In 2010 we noticed that the video game category on Justin.tv was growing abnormally faster than the rest of the site,” says DiPietro. “It eventually became such an outsized portion of the site’s content and activity that we had started building features specifically for this gaming community. Because of the tailored feature set and the skyrocketing growth, it made sense to roll it out as its own product and brand with its own unique set of offerings.”
As for why people view others playing online, DiPietro says it may be so others can tune in, watch their friends, and then chat live about the gameplay that’s occurring.
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